...

Scripture

Romans 16:1-7

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

 

 

Observation

Paul begins to bring his letter to the Romans to a close by greeting various members of the early Church. Phoebe is described as a servant of the Church, but the word may well mean deacon. She is a lady who is known for the way she helps others. Priscilla and Aquila are a couple whom Luke mentions in Acts (18:2, 18, 26). They too have helped Paul in the past and they hosted a house church in their home. Epaenetus seems to have a special place in Pauls heart. He was one of the first to turn to Christ in Achaia, where Paul wrote this letter to the Romans.

The lady called Junia (whose name means youth) is mentioned in just one verse of the book of Romans, but from this brief sentence, we can learn quite a bit about her.

Paul asks the recipients of his letter to pass on his greetings to her and Andronicus, both of whom are in prison for their faith. It seems likely that she is either Andronicus’ wife or his sister. Paul states that they are both related to him which indicates they are both Jews. They have been Christ-followers for longer than he has. Probably Junia followed Jesus from the time of Stephen or earlier and she would have been a member of the very early Church in Jerusalem. She was called by God to minister as a woman alongside men, reflecting God’s decree that men and women would be equal partners (Genesis 1:27).

Her faith was being tested for she was imprisoned with Paul and Andronicus. Whilst prisons in the first century would have been unpleasant places for men, they would have been even worse for a woman. Paul confirmed that she was an apostle which was the highest honour for anyone in the early Church. Most of the apostles were men – Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Timothy and Epaphroditus are called apostles, amongst others – so Junia was highly esteemed both as an apostle and as a woman. The term apostle was used to describe people who were sent out to spread the Good News of the Gospel, rather than implying they were part of the group of twelve who formed part of Jesus’ inner circle.

Junia is only mentioned in this one verse of Scripture and for hundreds of years she was thrust into obscurity as neither the Church nor any commentators, scribes or teachers could believe or accept that a woman could be an apostle and so the records were changed and Junia was referred to as Junias (the male form of her name). There is, however, no evidence in early church documents that Junia was a man. As a result, she has been overlooked by Church history.

To the Group Leader

Please be aware that you may have a woman or women in your
group who suffer abuse, who hide in the group or who are ignored in
some area of their lives. Be sensitive and ready to step in if there are
signs of distress to pray with the women concerned, even if this is
done after the session in private.

Be aware too of married couples where the husband is present and
where the woman is upset.

Pray about any action God wants you to take in regard to such a
situation. It is advisable for women to counsel women and men to
counsel men.

Icebreaker:

When have you been in a situation where you have felt unseen? What made you feel that way? How did you cope? What was the end result?

Application

  • Has Junia’s story touched you? Why do you respond in this way?
  • What does her story say to you about the way people can manipulate Scripture? Where do you go to find understanding of what you read in the Bible’s pages? Do you consult Scripture or other people’s interpretations of it? Are there times when you disagree with what people believe a given verse says? Do you do your own investigations within Scripture itself to try to understand what it is saying to you now, today? Why/why not?
  • How do you feel about women holding authority in the Church? What about women in your line of business, the leadership of your country, the authority in your family? Why do you feel this way?
  • How do you deal with a situation where a woman is belittled or ignored when working with a group of people?
  • Who is the Junia in your life? Is she hiding herself, or is she unseen by others? How can you encourage this woman to use her gifts and help her to find her place in both Church and community?
  • Spend a moment in silence. Think back to when you last had a discussion with men and women regarding an important issue. How did you treat the opinions of the women around you? Are you at peace with what happened or uneasy about it, in the light of this discussion now?
  • What can we do with Junia? Acknowledge and honour her and thank God for her. Draw strength from who she is.’ How will Junia’s story influence the way you relate to women?

Prayer

Pray for any women who are abused, hiding or ignored in your circle, whether you know them by name or not. Pray also for children – and men – who are in similar situations. Then pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service

Ask God to bring to your notice the way you interact with women in the coming week. When you are with someone you find difficult to like/love, ask Him to show you that person through His eyes. What difference does that make? How can  you respond to them more gently? How does the thought – and then the action feel? Share your responses next week.

Bibliography

Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letter to the Romans. The Saint Andrew Press. Edinburgh 1983

Romans Chapter 16

Junia: The “Hidden” Apostle

Gracepoint Church WhatsApp
Send via WhatsApp
Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.